When you turn in a flawless race performance, the results are usually always good. The New England Forest Rally (NEFR), held this past weekend, was no exception to that rule. Ryan Millen and his 2016 RAV4 SE finished in second place in the 2WD Class, just 14 seconds in back of the Ford Fiesta ST of Cameron Steely after over 100 miles of stages. The performance keeps Millen and co-driver, Christina Fate, in the hunt for the championship with just two races to go.
The start of the race would see a new competitor enter the fray, a very potent Ford Escort RS1800 from Europe. After the dust settled from Stage 1, Millen would trail the Escort and the Fiesta, but only by a few seconds. By Stage 3, the RAV4 would move into second place, right behind Steely, concluding day one of the two-day competition.
“The stages were fast and flowy,” said Millen. “Day one had us trailing slightly, but we knew most of the rally took place the next day, so that’s where the real time could be made.”
Stage 4 was literally a dead heat, as Millen turned up the wick to match Steely’s time to the second. After that, the two traded off, with Millen winning a stage followed by Steely. It was rinse and repeat, and in the end Millen would capture the second step on the podium with a total time of 1:34:18.8 over 10 stages, a scant 13.8 seconds off of first place. The performance kept Millen and the RAV4 just a few points off of first place for the championship, well within striking distance.
During the entire rally, other than a bent wheel, the RAV4 ran perfectly. Millen, Fate, and the Rally RAV4 were bulletproof, but, at least at this race, so was the competition.
“It was a nearly perfect drive,” said Millen. “I gave it all I had. We didn’t leave much on the table. I’d love to have had a five point lead going into the next race, but second keeps us in the hunt, and we’re feeling good going into the last couple races of the season.”
With two races to go, the team now prepares for the Ojibwe Forests Rally in Detroit Lakes, Minn. on August 26.
More information on the Rally RAV4 program can be found at www.RallyRAV4.com.
Information on the Rally America series can be found www.Rally-America.com.